Lit-fest drama

Two weeks ago I mentioned a pair of literary spats connected with magazine publishing and translation, respectively. Shortly afterwards, it turns out, a couple of literary festivals became unusually combative-- albeit in very different ways.

You may have heard about the attempt by George Monbiot, activist and journalist, to perform a citizen's arrest of John Bolton at the Hay-on-Wye Festival in Wales. (I got the heads-up from Amitava Kumar.) That attempt was unsuccessful, but Monbiot was undaunted: "I'm disappointed I couldn't reach him," he said, "but I made what I believe to be the first attempt ever to arrest one of the perpetrators of the Iraq war, and I would like to see that followed up."

In less world-political news, Derek Walcott hurled some carefully crafted insults at V.S. Naipaul, pictured above, down in Jamaica, at the Calabash Literary Festival-- attended by, among others, the editor of PEN America, M Mark. M tells me that the audience was stunned by Walcott's nastiness (the "most disturbing section of the poem," according to one account, "describes Naipaul returning to Trinidad and taking Walcott on a hunt for prostitutes"), a report echoed here. More details and reactions can be found here and here.

More generally, though, M said that Calabash was a joy-- one of the most inspiring and enjoyable literary festivals she's ever attended. You can read a detailed write-up by Calabash co-founder and Programming Director Kwame Dawes here.

1 comment:

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